1 - 7 June 2000
Issue No. 484
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Focus Features Heritage Travel Living Sports Profile People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
Piracy downBy Niveen Wahish
Egypt has scored some success in reducing software piracy in the past year, according to the annual report issued by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA).
Incidents of software piracy dropped by a quarter last year, an improvement that Ghada Khalifa, representative of BSA, attributes to the Ministry of Culture's enforcement of the Intellectual Property Rights law. Since last year, the ministry has redirected its anti-piracy strategy to concentrate more on monitoring business and commercial end-users, rather than focusing its efforts on computer and software retail companies. The Ministry of Culture also undertook a wide-ranging awareness campaign, sending letters to companies and institutions, advertising in the papers and on television, and contacting professional users by telephone.
Violators now face tougher penalties than ever, with the owner of one contracting company using copied software receiving a custodial sentence.
Such initiatives have seen piracy rates falling for the first time in almost six years. A People's Assembly report assesses that Egypt has already lost some LE30 million in revenues as a result of software piracy, though Nasser Ali Khawasneh, BSA's vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa, believes that the losses are actually greater. "Pirates do not pay taxes," he said, "and the higher the rate of piracy, the lower the investment attractiveness of a country."
Egypt has "great potential" in the IT sector because of its human resources, but growth is compromised by "insufficient protection" for creativity, believes Khawasneh.
Egypt's drive against piracy has yet to replicate the success of the United Arab Emirates, which now enjoys the lowest piracy rates in the Middle East. The country with the worst piracy record in the region is Lebanon.
Yet even in Lebanon, the position is better than in Vietnam, where 98 per cent of software is pirated, or in China and Russia, with figures of 91 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.
The US has the lowest rate of piracy, at 25 per cent, followed by the UK with 26 per cent and Germany with 27 per cent. Countries with the lowest piracy rates, though, have consistently registered the highest losses -- with the US losing $3.2 billion, more than a quarter of the world's estimated total.
Piracy rates are calculated according to new and replacement shipments rather than the total installed base.